Saturday, July 24, 2010

2011 Military Pay Raise: House, 1.9% vs. Senate, 1.4%?

[Updated 1/1/2011]
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 was passed by Congress and has been sent to the President for signature. Touted as the largest Defense budget since WWII, the bill authorizes $725 billion for fiscal year 2011. The bill covers virtually every aspect of military spending including authorization for expanding TRICARE coverage to include dependents up to age 26, TRICARE fee protection, family support and care giver programs and a 1.4 percent increase in military pay

Find the pay chart HERE

For my fellow military members- here is the pending, unofficially proposed increases for next year, the great battle between the House and the Senate for the 2011 military pay increase.

Here's a excerpt from a reliable source on the recent conundrum:

"The House of Representatives wants a 1.9 percent military raise for 2011, an amount that would shave another half a percentage point off a perceived gap between average military and private-sector wages by providing an across-the-board increase higher than the average civilian wage hike last year.

The Senate, however, is siding with the Obama administration by putting a 1.4 percent across-the-board raise in its version of the 2011 defense authorization bill passed May 27 by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

...Differences in the House and Senate bills must be reconciled before a final bill passes. The Obama administration has made clear that it sides with the Senate, although it is unclear how hard it would fight for a smaller raise."

There is a longer-termed benefit to the proposal by the Senate, that will have far reaching benefits to certain military members beyond the next fiscal year.

In addition to their chosen 1.4 percent increase (which they believe to be quite fair due to a number of other military pay/benefits having healthy increases), and by the urging of Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., chairman of that committee’s personnel panel, the Senate bill takes the first steps toward establishing a new formula for military pay raises that, beginning in 2012, would provide bigger increases to ground combat troops.

“There is no civilian equivalent for a grunt,” Webb said. “We need to have a new formula that recognizes that.”

Here is an excerpt from the latest news regarding this story @ USA Today:

"The House approved a 1.9% raise, but the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., adopted the administration's lower recommendation.
Two weeks remain in the "lame duck" session of Congress, and Democrats have made passage of a defense authorization bill, which includes the pay raise, contingent on a divisive measure to repeal the military's ban on gays serving openly.
Some senators say Congress should give a boost to troops doing the most fighting. Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., will propose bonuses for troops doing the "hardest work and most hazardous duties," spokesman Will Jenkins says.
Retired vice admiral Norbert Ryan, president of the Military Officers Association of America, says his group is leading a coalition of 32 groups representing 5.5 million current and former military personnel and their families in pushing for a 1.9% raise."

I think we'll soon be seeing a LOT more of these pop up in the sandbox!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Red Dead Redemption - for PC fans?

The trend continues...seeing now that the average age of video gamers is 35 years old (which has risen from last few years) we now see a correlation of the console market gaining massive share of the sales of games, with a relatively small percentage of us PC gamers still holding sway.  Is it that perhaps the older gamers get, the more lazy and couch-bound we become? I'm 33, yet I still haven't sprung for the ps3 or it's 60 dollar games. I'm a PC gamer, going on at least 20 years now, and i've had playstations and nintendos (where my age group started of course!), but the games on consoles IMO serve a purpose, but don't satisfy like the PC counterparts. This is immensely arguable, of course, and fiercely debated in countless forums and internet discussions.

Now, more and more of our favorite games are developed for the money making console market FIRST, then...maybe, if we are lucky, the dev/publishers might throw us a bone and port their masterpiece's of simplistic gameplay and limited depth to the PC, where invariably the result is a buggy, un-optimized mess of a game [looking at you GUN] that is basically abandoned shortly after release and rarely polished with patches. There's apparently just no money to motivate them anymore.

Now ordinarily, this never bothered me too much. After all, like I said, console games are usually simplistic quick casual games or action games that are high on explosions and mind-numbing time wasters, fun because you don't have to 'think' too much and therefore, yes, are fun in a casual sit-on-the-couch-after-the-kids-go-to-bed mode. But now there is a crossing over, a turning point, where once in-depth, strategic, or franchised FPS games are being stolen from the PC, published on console first...and worse, ONLY on console, leaving us longtime fans of a certain franchise scratching our heads, with money in hand, wondering why we don't get to share in the fun anymore. Yeah! There I said it!  Listen up EA, 2K games, UBISOFT! Even one of my favorite developers, Bethesda (Morrowind, Oblivion) spent their money on optimizing Oblivion and Fallout 3 for the @%$! [parden me, consolers] Xbox/Ps3 crowd first, then ported it over to the PC-where these games roots began. With InfinityWard/Activision's bastardization of the infamous Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, the trend continues as the money rolls in.

So now we come to one of my other favorite developers, Rockstar, whom have a mostly outstanding track record of high-quality, highly addicting and fun games, releasing what appears to be a stellar new game -Red Dead Redemption, only on the consoles. Yes, I realize that the first in the series '..Revolver' was also a console-only game- that game was mostly a fun 2 player shoot-em up without a major story or single player story campaign. The sequel looks vastly superior, complete with hollywood quality writing, graphics, story and cut-scenes [a la GTA series], and therefore...I really want a chance to place this bad boy. Will I get the chance? Only time will tell.

Rockstar took a year to release GTA4 to PC, almost as long for Vice City and San Andreas. Currently, what Rockstar San Diego is reporting is they have no plans to release Red Dead Redemption for PC, but if that changes they will 'let us know'.

So for you Xbox/Ps3 owners who may enjoy this game- go ahead and 'let me know' how it is. I'll go back to my port of the still excellent Fallout 3 GOTY edition in the meantime.